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James Rutherford, Mount Palomar Winery's winemaker extraordinaire, drawing a barrel sample during production.Mount Palomar's winemaker James Rutherford is a Northern California transplant who received his degree from California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo. He gained most of his experience on the Central Coast in both the Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo wine regions working at various levels in production and apprenticeship, as well as in the winemaker position.  He is experienced in the cultivation and vinting the varietals native to France, Spain, Italy and Germany; many of which are planted at Mount Palomar Winery.

“My family pioneered California, and though I have lived overseas and have had opportunities away from home, I feel my place is here.  My family once owned the greater part of Napa Valley, being the first family to settle and the first to produce wine in Napa while California was still part of Mexico. Hence both Yountville and Rutherford, CA are named after the family. The Temecula wine region is not exactly new and offers it's own sophistication and style that differs from the larger wine areas to the north, however I feel it still welcomes the pioneering spirit and is flexible to creativity.  Mount Palomar's estate vineyards with some 25 varietals provides an amazingly broad palate from which to work.  With 20 wines on the tasting room bar at any given time, wine-making at Mount Palomar is a true test of ones viticultural, oenological, and cultural knowledge.  It is a joy to work with so many cultivars, however there is no time to play favorites as one must always remain focused and ready to work with the characters and quirks of each varietal.”

With Mount Palomar Winery's long standing reputation on the line, James was carefully chosen to maintain quality and direct production during the winery's critical stage of growth.  He shares the family's vision and sees the opportunity and potential.  His first full vintage at Mount Palomar  began with the 2013 harvest. “George Yount probably only had Mission Grapes to plant the first vineyards of Napa.  He would have been envious.”